The blogs are all abuzz about Obama and his mentor-cum-pariah Jeremiah Wright, who through weekend comments espousing his crazy conspiracy theories and bizarre anthropology have thrust them both into the headlines and into the headlights of an oncoming freight train. I have written previously about Jeremiah Wright, and so have little to add to the millions of words already written on his theology, social philosophy, pseudo-Christianity, and his influence on Barack Obama.
One of the more interesting angles to this controversy has been a question raised about whether Pastor Wright is in fact trying to undermine the presidential campaign Senator Obama. At first glance, such a turnabout is confusing, and the best rationale offered to date is that the good Pastor is a bit frosted about being straight-armed by his young protÃ©gÃ©. While this may well be true, allow me to put forth another possibility, one which I believe to be far more plausible.
Jeremiah Wright cannot allow Obama to succeed.
Yes, you heard me right. Consider this:
Jeremiah Wright lives, breathes, and exists to proclaim that Western civilization in general, and America specifically, are intractably racist and evil, and have been so ever since their foundation. We have all heard and read the sermons and the church bulletins, talking about how white men go to church on Sunday and lynch black men on Monday; how we are a terrorist nation bent on killing people of color and the poor; how the U. S. government created the AIDS virus for the purpose eradicating the black community. In Pastor Wright’s dark world, American society is incorrigibly racist, incapable of change, and the source of all problems in the black community and the world. The black man is a victim, oppressed, and the society in which he lives irredeemable.
Then along comes Obama.
This man, carefully mentored for 20 years under your tutelage, decides to run for President. And he starts winning — winning in part due to huge support from the black community, but winning in even larger part because of white voters. He becomes a rock star, the darling of the lily-white media, the heartthrob of the white intellectual elites, preaching a message of post-racial reconciliation and hope.
And he keeps on winning. In fact, he looks likely to be the democratic presidential nominee. And he looks highly competitive to become president of the United States.
By all measures, in a rational world, this should be a moment of enormous triumph for the black community, a testimony that America is finally beginning to move past race to the dream of Martin Luther King: to judge a man based on the content of this character rather than the color of his skin.
But if you are Jeremiah Wright, your world is falling apart.
You have preached for years that all white men are racists, and lynchers-in-waiting. You have talked for years that only black is good, and white is evil. You have maintained that the African-American is always a victim, always the target of racism, always doomed to fail in this system which, at its very core, hates him.
And now, the profound prevarication underlying all you have taught and believed in is embodied in the person of Barack Obama. Here is a black man widely viewed as bright, personable, and accomplished; whom large numbers of whites not only vote for, but enthusiastically support; whose success betrays the profound error of your entire worldview.
Whitey’s gonna elect a black man. And if he does, the gig is up.
In short, if Obama succeeds, Jeremiah Wright fails: Jeremiah Wright has deceived his congregation; Jeremiah Wright’s understanding of the world, his understanding of God, his understanding of Christianity, has been proven to be deceitful, hollow, and yes, racist.
If you are Jeremiah Wright, you are not amused. This is a man clearly obsessed with the adulation of his followers, who thrives on notoriety and outrageousness and racial demagoguery, who views himself as a prophet crying in the wilderness against a hopelessly bigoted white world.
But the scam has been exposed — if Obama succeeds. If he fails, however, sweet victory is yours: racist Amerikkka has lynched another black man, and the prophet will be honored in his own town.
The tragedy in all of this is not the now-unfolding public humiliation of Jeremiah Wright and all he stands for; it is instead with those who, like Obama, have sat in his pews for years, absorbing this hateful perversion of Christianity as truth. If it is certain, as Jesus said, that “the truth shall set you free”, then the corollary is most certainly true as well: that falsehood will enslave you. For those who feed and breed hatred in fact enslave those whom they teach, and bind them with enormous handicaps, as they try to come to terms and succeed in a world which in reality bears no resemblance to their imputed vision of it. If you believe that you are hated by every white man, and all your failures may be laid at his feet; if you are taught week after week that you are a victim; if you believe that you are poor only because of the greed of rich white men; if you believe that all-powerful forces of government and society are intractably evil and oppressive, then your chances of succeeding in a world where such things are simply not true will be dismal. The gospel of Jeremiah Wright is the gospel of failure, of hopelessness, of self-pity, of hatred; it is a most toxic stew which poisons the minds in the hearts of those who ingest it.
We may never know exactly how much of Jeremiah Wright’s bilious hatred Obama has absorbed. But the true tragedy must surely lie with those thousands who — unlike Obama — will never succeed because of the lies they have been fed. For them, it is not “Yes. We. Can.”, but rather “No, we can’t.” Whether Jeremiah Wright will succeed in destroying Obama’s candidacy remains to be seen; the story of the destruction of countless others who have imbibed his poison will, tragically, never be told.